A few weeks ago, we put on our stretchy pants and in a span of about 40 hours, sampled food and drinks from 20 different places to eat in Kansas City, Kansas. Yes, we ate a good amount barbecue – a local tradition and favorite. But we also tasted foods and beverages that took us on a culinary journey around the world, right from the Midwest. Here’s a look inside our sponsored foodie tour in Kansas City, Kansas. All opinions expressed are our own, like our opinion that this tray of barbecue from Rosedale Barbeque was amazing.
If you go to Kansas City, Kansas, and don’t eat barbecue, did you even go to Kansas City? Our foodie tour began with a barbecue buffet (top photo) on the patio at Chateau Avalon, catered by Joe’s BBQ, Wood Yard BBQ, and Slaps BBQ. During our tour, we also dined in at Rosedale Barbeque (bottom left photo). Family owned and operated since 1934, Rosedale began as a neighborhood hot dog and beer stand. While customers loved the cold, 25-cent beer, what they really desired was barbecue. So the family began serving what the people wanted and the business has been one of the locals’ favorite places to eat in Kansas City, Kansas, ever since.
Foodie tip: Try all the sauces at Rosedale Barbecue and purchase a bottle of your favorite to take home. Also, the crinkle fries and the cheesy potato bake are great sides with any dish.
Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant
We started our full-day tour of places to eat in Kansas City, Kansas, the next morning at a local legend: the original Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant. Fritz and Virginia Kropf started this 1950’s style drive-in restaurant in 1954 and it still takes you back to that time. Famous for its made-to-order grilled burgers with onions and toasted buns, Fritz’s also serves a delicious traditional American breakfast. And the best part? You order from a hand held phone receiver and your meal is delivered in a basket by an electric train. (We’re pictured below with the other food and travel bloggers on our tour.)
Foodie tip: For breakfast, get the Mek sandwich: sausage, egg, cheese, and a crispy hash browns served on white toast.
A Kansas City, Kansas, original, Splitlog Coffee is operated by barista Simeon Bricker. Simeon knows all things coffee and is himself a world-champion latte artist. We watched as he poured the cup below and then got to try our hand at designing a cup of our own. Ours were definitely less artful. The folks at Splitlog have worked hard to create a destination for coffee lovers and will be expanding their operation, soon.
Foodie tip: Make sure to order you coffee with a freshly made donut from another local favorite – Hana’s donuts.
We weren’t sure what to expect when they told us we’d be stopping at a place for Mexican ice cream and other treats. But whatever expectations we did have were totally blown away by what became one of our favorite places to eat in Kansas City, Kansas. Paleterias Tropicana is home to about 16 zillion different foods, each freshly made in-house. We ordered churros and watched as they were fried, then served up with homemade vanilla ice cream. Flavors here combine in unique and unexpected ways, like in the Mangoneada, a tropical snack featuring mango chunks in mango sorbet served in a tamarind sauce with chamoy.
Foodie tip: Order the tacos dorados. These crunchy chicken or beef tacos are some of the best we’ve ever had. You can thank us later.
1889 Pizza serves up the most authentic pizza we’ve found this side of Naples, Italy. Using 00 flour and San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy, owners Jason and Kelli Kolich have worked through every little detail so that folks in Kansas City can know what real pizza should taste like. They make their dough using only traditional ingredients and methods, then let it rise for days (yes, days!) before hand tossing it and topping it with fresh, authentic toppings. Next, they slide it into their Italian wood-fired oven before serving it hot and fresh at your table.
Foodie tip: They offer classes in tossing and making pizza. Check their website for information and learn about pizza from the pros!
El Pollo Rey
With only three items on the menu, El Pollo Rey may not have as many choices as other places to eat in Kansas City, Kansas, but you won’t mind one bit. Menu items include a whole chicken, half chicken, and chicken wings served with rice, beans, salsa, pickled onion and tortillas. El Pollo Rey (The Chicken King) definitely lives up to its name. We asked a member of the family that owns the restaurant, Jose Quintana, for the secret to this incredible chicken. He would only say that they marinate the chicken using a recipe his grandfather brought from Mexico (and was, apparently, handed down from the gods). They then cook it over a hickory wood fire on a massive grill that holds 52 chickens at once. Whatever they do, it’s incredibly delicious. People line up out the door from when they open at 10 a.m. until they close at 8 p.m. – unless they sell out, first.
Foodie tip: Put some chicken on a tortilla with the salsa and pickled red onion. It’s how Jose eats it, and we now know why. Yum!
One of the newest spots on the Kansas City, Kansas, food scene is Boba Blend. It’s the first and only place to get bubble tea in KCK, and the folks here have set the bar high. Each day, they serve up freshly made colorful creations that will delight Instagrammers and lovers of boba teas everywhere. The bright, cheery colors of the store match the personalities of the owners. This is a great place to go try something fun and new.
Foodie tip: When they hand you your sealed, layered tea, take a picture, then shake it up before popping your straw through the cover and drinking.
While we didn’t eat a lot on this stop, we did taste some ridiculously spicy sauces at Spicin Foods in Kansas City, Kansas. Spicin Foods bottles more than 1,300 different sauces and is the largest bottling company in the midwest. They have an on-site retail store with all kinds of sauces and seasonings and you can sample many of the products. We especially enjoyed their Pain is Good line of sauces, including the Chipotle and Habanero varieties.
Foodie tip: If you taste test something that’s too spicy for your palate, cool down your tongue by tasting something sweet like a barbecue sauce.
Some more places to eat (and drink) in Kansas City, Kansas
This Strawberry Hill neighborhood bar has an excellent craft beer selection and 10 pinball machines. They held a small pinball tournament for us on our visit. Lo and behold, Steve was apparently the best pinball wizard in our group. With a relaxed atmosphere and an outdoor patio, 403 Club is a great place to relax with friends and enjoy a brew. They don’t serve food, but also don’t mind if you order in.
Bonito Michoacan Bakery
We sampled lots of delicious Mexican pastries at Bonito Michoacan Bakery in Kansas City, Kansas, and loved them all. When you arrive, help yourself to a silver tray and tongs and make your selections from the dozens of options in the glass cases. Bonito Michoacan Bakery also sells piñatas and gorgeous cakes, including one of our favorites – tres leches. Our host, Maila, shows off some of the Mexican pastries we sampled.
Krizman’s House of Sausage
A full-service meat market specializing in Polish sausage, Krizman’s Sausage has been a Kansas City, Kansas, favorite for more than 80 years. Founder Joseph Krizman Sr. came from Croatia to Kansas City, Kansas, in 1939 with $50 and began making sausage at a nearby packing plant. Ten years later, he opened his own grocery store and the rest is history. Today, Krizman’s supplies sausages to many of the best places to eat in Kansas City and their sausages are sold in 39 states. We sampled three kinds and tasted for ourselves why these sausages are so popular. We toured the facility and visited with several of the workers there including this gentleman. He said he never has to go to the gym after lifting 60-pound trays of meat and sausage every day.
Turn 2 Sports Bar & Restaurant
Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway offers a fine dining restaurant called Final Cut, as well as Turn 2 Sports Bar & Restaurant. There, they treated us to a table full of appetizers, entrees, and desserts while we sat at a table overlooking the Kansas Speedway at, you guessed it, Turn 2. While enjoying a great view of the speedway, we tried the Texas nachos, chicken wings, and the giant pretzel with two types of dipping sauce. Then, we dug into a large bowl of creamy chili mac, made of Cavatappi pasta, cheese sauce, chili con carne, cheddar jack, sour cream, and green onions. With little room left for dessert, we pushed through to enjoy a few bites of a warm brownie with ice cream and New York cheesecake.
Velvet Creme Popcorn
Did you know that Velvet Creme Popcorn was the very first company to offer gourmet popcorn in a decorated can? This family-owned and operated popcorn business is a Kansas City, Kansas, favorite and their popcorn is delicious. The name Velvet Creme, came from the family’s grandmother who found the popcorn to have a velvety texture and a rich flavor like creme. Packaging the popcorn in a tin can began when the owners decided to hand paint a few of the containers with original Christmas designs. The popularity grew and grew. Today, the decorated cans are mass produced.
The Mockingbird Lounge
Another neighborhood bar with well-crafted cocktails is The Mockingbird Lounge. Ann enjoyed the Third Shift cocktail, made of Duffy’s Run vodka, Rieger’s Cafe Amaro, and cold brew coffee, garnished with an orange twist. One of the others on our tour ordered the bright pink Hummingbird cocktail. It is Rieger’s gin, St. Germaine, Aperol, lemon juice, and hibiscus garnished with a flower. We enjoyed sipping our cocktails on an outdoor deck that has a terrific view of the Kansas City, Missouri, skyline. This Strawberry Hill neighborhood bar also serves brunch, as well as delicious appetizers and other food items. We highly recommend the queso blanco with chorizo and tortilla chips.
Rowe Ridge Winery
Owners Marc and Pamela have been welcoming visitors to their tasting room since 2012. The first vineyard in Wyandotte County, Rowe Ridge Winery now sits on five acres filled with 3,000 vines. There are about 10 wines available for sampling, including two fruit wines. Our host, Pam, told us that wine slushies are a guest favorite in the summer months and the winery features mulled wines in the fall. We loved that the vineyards are right next to the tasting room so you can enjoy a beautiful view while you sample wines. The owners are also more than willing to talk to you about the grapes, wines, and wine making process. They will even take you on a walking tour in the vineyard.
Where we stayed
Chateau Avalon Hotel & Spa is, by far, one of the most unique hotels in which we’ve ever stayed. With a variety of themed rooms, this 61-room boutique hotel offers oversized jetted tubs, room service, and even spa services. Examples of themed rooms include a Tahitian Treehouse (yes, the bed is in the tree), a Mayan Rainforest, and the Roman Dynasty themed room in which we stayed. While at the hotel, guests can relax with a glass of wine or cocktail in the d’Nile bar on the lower level. There is also a beautiful outdoor patio just off the bar.
Thank you to Visit Kansas City, Kansas, and the participating businesses for hosting us on this food tour. All opinions and mouth watering memories are our own. For even more insights to the Kansas City, Kansas, food scene, check out the other food and travel writers and bloggers who were on our tour, including: Adventure Mom, Adventures of Empty Nesters, and Tangled Up in Food.